Keepin' it all together
The Janu Tornell Interview
« on: Dec 21st, 2005, 11:05pm »
(The following interview originally appeared at Scribe's Oasis in September of 2005)
For the third in our ongoing Interview series, I had the wonderful opportunity to pose a few questions to the lovely Janu Tornell from Survivor: Palau. Janu was very excited to interact with us fans and I want to publicly thank her for allowing us into her world for a little while.
First, a little review. Janu is a 39 year-old performer from Las Vegas, NV. After surviving 27 days as a member of the Koror tribe, Janu opted out of the game in episode 10 when it looked like Stephenie was going to be voted out. Janu stated that she had gotten everything she wanted from the game and felt that Stephenie deserved to stay in the game. She gallantly laid down her torch and became one of the few who have left the game without being voted out. At the finale of Survivor: Palau, Janu's close friend, Coby Archa, (who we interviewed earlier this year) announced that he had adopted a baby girl and named her Janu after his closest friend on the show.
MediaScribe: Hi Janu, welcome!
Janu: Hello, thank you for this interview!
MS: We know life for Survivors can be quite busy, so thanks for sharing a little of your time with us. Members of our community have posted some questions about your Survivor experience. Ready to go?
Janu: Yes, I'm ready fire away!
MS: Was this the first time you applied for Survivor?
Janu: Yes, this was my first time that I applied. I had thought about it a couple of years back, but due to my mother going through chemotherapy for cancer and I was still finishing up at the University here in Las Vegas, I had to postpone my audition process. So, at the end of Survivor All-Stars in May of 2004, I decided to go ahead and make a tape and send it in. And I was blessed with a call back and then acceptance into the game.
MS: After getting the word that you were going to be on Survivor, how did you react and what did you do to prepare yourself?
Janu: Well, from the very first phone call that I received, I was instructed to not say a word. I remember only whispering the great news to my loyal confidant my dog. (lol!) Then once I was accepted in September for Finals only my parents and brother knew. I then had to wait until mid October for the final approval and then I only told a couple of friends, who had to sign confidentiality documents. I did not even tell my work. I actually created a story about my moving to Brazil and instead it was to do SURVIVOR. I did start rock climbing and exercising in the gym, hence how I was able to climb the tree in the very first episode. However, I should have put on more weight as we know that I lost so much and became very ill.
MS: Were you a big fan of the show before you got cast? And if so, how did the experience compare to what you expected?
Janu: I honestly had only seen a couple of seasons. I decided to do it because someone at work said I could never do such a thing nor get picked because of my thinness. However, I did do it and the experience is one I will never forget. It gave me the utmost appreciation for life, family, friends and most of all the courage that I can put myself through really hard situations and make it. It may sound strange to say this, because I did take myself out of the game after 27 days with only 12 more to go, but I was ill and after the night on the Exile Island, it had all come full circle with me and I realized that I was completely satisfied and happy. I know for most people, a million dollars or the chance to win such is something you just don't throw away, but for ME a million dollars will never equate the result of my experience. My time there in the game and out has no price!
MS: What part of the game was harder on you, the physical aspects or the mental/emotional ones?
Janu: Well, from the time that we ate the stew around the twelfth day and after not having eaten anything but coconuts and water I became very ill. I was throwing up for the following 15 days. That really took a toll on me. However, I still did my best in the challenges that I was able to participate in. Towards the end, the mental part took a toll on me because not being so knowledgeable of the "game" of SURVIVOR I really did not know how to play the game. I was not able to take part in the scheming and mind games.
MS: How about the rats?
Janu: From the beginning when we got to our island - "rat island" - I hated the rats, but after so many days and with Coby hitting them with his rat stick so we could sleep, they just became gerbils. I just got used to them, but they were awful!
MS: You were picked pretty early in the pick 'em at the beach. How did that feel?
Janu: Funny, you know I will always remember that day to the fullest. I recall feeling so relieved when Tom picked me.
MS: Why do you think Tom picked you?
Janu: He must have seen strength in me from the climbing the tree, and when I picked Gregg, I knew in my heart that the rest of the picking would go that way. He would pick Jenn, Jenn would pick Coby, Coby would pick Caryn, and she would pick Willard. It sounds strange but I hoped it would go that way and it did, and we had a great tribe.
MS: Before you were divided into tribes, did you make friends with anyone who ended up on Ulong?
Janu: I did not make "friends" with anyone because that word and its meaning holds a lot of value and therefore I am very careful of who I choose to be friends with. I was as friendly with everyone as they were with me. I remember Jolanda wanting to stick together because she felt that being the older ones we needed too. So, I told her, Willard, Caryn and Wanda that I could not side with anyone at that moment because I need to make my own decisions not based on a fear of being older. To this day Wanda respects that conversation we had. Now, since the game I am very close with Coby because he did become my rock throughout our whole time there, and I have become close with Jenn and Gregg. I do speak to Katie and Tom once in a while as their schedules permit and Bobby Jon who is an amazing man! He attends the church I go to when I am in LA. I wish him alot of luck in this season now playing.
MS: How did you feel when she saw Ulong losing every Immunity Challenge?
Janu: Believe it or not it was great to be winning, but I did feel for the other tribe. Actually Coby and others felt the same way, especially when we had to eat the stew, bread, rootbeer reward in front of them at Tribal Council. That was horrible!
MS: You had a pretty strong beginning out there, but around episode 6 (day 18 or so), you appeared to begin coming apart...first a tough storm took its toll, then you stopped working around camp, and then you became ill after a feast. What was happening? Were you getting sick or was this just a result of the way you were edited in the show?
Janu: No, what you saw on TV is what happened with the exception that I was ill from day 12. The cameras did not show that every episode, because c'mon how boring. However, it did appear that I was just this emaciated camp victim and that I only got sick at the feast reward. I did start out strong, and the night of the typhoon, I felt very scared and vulnerable. That is when you saw me in the hammock and Tom was giving me a pep talk. I did get tired of all of the scheming and I withdrew myself not only from the tribe and the game but almost even from me. I was having a really hard time getting sick all the time and I had no energy to do anything but the challenges. I never sabotaged any challenges for my tribe just because I was sick. That is evident when I put all of my energy into the scaffold building in the water. I don't know where I got that strength but I did.
MS: Your night of isolation in episode 10 really seemed to revitalize you. What was that like and why do you think you responded so positively to it?
Janu: First off, I will say that I did have a crew of four out there with me for the beginning of the night, and that is how you saw what happened on the island. But they did leave at some point and returned in the morning. I think that when I saw myself out there in the middle of the Philippine Sea with only the natural elements with this tiny island to myself it was very rewarding spiritually and physically. I felt so comfortable to be myself. I love people and love to be around them, but I am very content when I am alone too. That night, everything came full circle and I was happy again.
MS: Ultimately you laid down your torch and left the game. Was that a tough decision to make? Do you think you would have done that if you hadn't spent that night alone and come to terms with yourself and the game?
Janu: I did lay down my torch by my own decision not coerced [by Jeff Probst - MS] as some seem to think. I did not do it to save Stephenie, however, it did allow her to stay in the game. My only question was that I wanted to be part of the jury. I was asked on FOX NEWS LIVE, if I had not been able to be on the jury would I have left anyway, at that time of the question my response was I don't know, because that is not what happened. But, now that time has passed I can say that I probably would have stuck it out a little more, only because being on the jury was important to me. I wanted to have a part in the final say of the winner. When, I arrived at Tribal Council that night after having spent the night alone, I was at terms with myself, the game and my life at that moment, and I was ready to go.
MS: Any regrets leaving the way you did?
Janu: I have no regrets at all! I am proud of my experience and it will always be a great memory.
MS: Did Stephanie say thank you or say anything else to you about this later on when she had been voted off?
Janu: Stephanie did not say thank you, nor did I expect that...that is not why I did that and I made that very clear to her when she was crying at Tribal Council.
MS: Briefly, what are your thoughts about Tom being the winner and about how Katie was treating you in confessionals?
Janu: I am glad Tom won, and as far as Katie, that was her reality. She felt that it would not have made a difference to answer my question or not. She did what she had to do and I did the same in my vote. I was not angry at her, I only felt that she did not give me the respest to answer my question as she did others and they were far more harsh with her than I was. She and I have talked since then, as we participated in an event in Florida over the summer, and she, Jenn and Coby and I shared a room together. She is a great lady. She and I never had arguments while on the island the only situation was when I called her on disrespecting me and the viewers got to see that. However, I had no idea that she was being so caddy and mean in her interviews about me. I got to see that first hand when I saw the show on tv. It was all a surprise to me. It was unfortunate that she disliked me so much simply because I was sick and not "playing the game" as she thought I should have. But, hey that was our story then and it is the past and it is an experience that I had to go through.
MS: How has your life changed after appearing on the show? What are you up to nowadays?
Janu: Well, I am back in Las Vegas. I recently went back to the Folies Bergere show at the Tropicana Hotel. I don't know how long I will stay but I am there now and doing some modeling. I had the opportunity to go to an event in Florida with past and present survivors at Discovery Beach in Cocoa Beach. We got to meet fans and do fun stuff. Now in October I will attend a REALITY4DIABETES charity event and will be seeing Coby and other Survivors. I look forward to doing more things like that.
MS: Coby is very forthcoming regarding how wonderful he thinks you are. How did you feel when he named his daughter after you?
Janu: That night at the Finale I was in complete shock! I knew that adoption had been on his mind, and one day on the island he did say to me if I ever have a child I will name her Janu. I am blessed to have him in my life. As I have always stated he was my ROCK! I love him to pieces. And for the lil Janu I adore her.
MS: Do you see them often?
Janu: I was able to meet her in June, in Los Angeles, as Coby filmed a show for LOGO on MTV. I spent three days with them and it was wonderful! I truly was sad when they had to leave. I will see Coby in October and we are hoping to plan the baby's christening before the end of the year. I hope to see her very soon! She truly is adorable!!!! And she's very lucky to have Coby as her father! She is blessed!
MS: In appreciation for your time and participation, we like to help interviewees promote any charitable endeavors they may be interested in. What charity or cause do you throw your support behind and why?
Janu: Breast Cancer is a big one for me as my mother was stricken with it, as well as other family members and friends. Any charities dealing with children, either sicknesses or their well being such as the Kids in Africa or other underdeveloped countries. And I can't leave out any animal charities as I am such an animal lover.
MS: Well Janu, I think we've certainly used up our share of your time. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us!
Janu: Thank you so very much for your time and interest in me. It has been a pleasure to speak to you and let our fans know how much they are appreciated and how great it is to feel this love and interest from them! Talk to you soon, and God Bless!